Election integrity activists are worried that various counties in the crucial state of Florida could defy federal law by destroying crucial documents required for election audits and recounts after the midterms. Specifically, Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT-USA) believes that county supervisors of elections in Florida are either not retaining ballot images or are destroying ballot images that are required by law to be kept for 22 months after a state or federal election. “Most of the counties down there are destroying the ballot images,” said John Brakey, director of the nonpartisan group.
A major incident involving destruction of ballot images occurred in Florida’s Broward County during the 2016 primary election. Brenda Snipes, Broward County supervisor of elections, destroyed both paper ballots and ballot images after congressional candidate Tim Canova filed a records request and eventual lawsuit against Snipes. This followed the Democratic primary that pitted Canova against incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Brakey noted that a chain of custody that Florida and other states, including Virginia and Michigan, are supposed to follow is being bypassed and broken by local elections departments.
“Chain of custody is everything in an election,” Brakey said. “Our ultimate goal is to get the images because we know that those images could be used to verify [elections].”